Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season 2 episode 13 review

Episode thirteen is unlucky for many of the characters in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

As this TV drama goes it has two distinct personalities, I’ve concluded: the playful one and another entirely darker variety. ‘Earthlings Welcome Here’ has both feet planted firmly in the latter camp, as this is an exceptionally dramatic episode in which shadows close in on two of the main characters. But it also takes time to slightly backfill on Riley’s story and progress the main story arc with the formative AI of John Henry.

It starts a bit strangely with Sarah attending a UFO convention, which is full of those that claim to have been abducted or to have seen extraterrestrials. She’s there following her obsession about the three dots, which she’s seen now presented on markings of UFOs people say they’ve seen. Unfortunately, her cynicism isn’t well obscured and she comes over to some of the participants as just there to admire the freak show.

She also meets a strangely bohemian woman called Barbara, who claims to have some relevant information about a blogger named Abraham, a person who seems to have been working with Terminator alloys. There’s a slightly convoluted journey to find the truth that they’re the same person, and Barbara is actually a bloke. This is sort of obvious for a while, but we’re distracted from thinking too much about it by a series of flashbacks telling how Jesse found Riley and brought her to the present. Cameron doesn’t like Riley, and it’s starting to set up a tension between her and John. But it’s also causing Riley to have problems continuing her mission to stop John and Cameron getting close. Yes, it’s a typical boy meets girl, meets robot, loves girl, loves robot, saves mankind, sort of story.

Eventually, Barbara comes clean about his background, and how he was taken to work each day in an enclosed van so he doesn’t know where the lab was in which he worked. Sarah hits on the idea of taking him/her to a hypnotherapy expert they met at the UFO symposium. But someone else is already on their trail, and they’re attacked by a machine gun-wielding motorcyclist.

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I’ve looked at this footage a few times and I can’t make my mind up if the rider is a Terminator or not, but the fact it retreats under fire might suggest it isn’t.

The issues with Riley reach a peak when she locks herself in a room at the house. John and Cameron break down the door to discover she’s slit her wrists! This is quite shocking, because while we know she’s unhappy and under stress from Jesse, this does seem a rather drastic step. It’s not clear if she survives.

That sets up the last ten minutes where all sorts of other mayhem ensues, but before that happens, we get a brief scene where Agent Ellison takes on the unenviable task of trying to give John Henry a moral foundation, and a belief in God.

Barbara goes through regression to remember the journey in detail, with Sarah outside in the car recording his memories. She also records the point where the motorcyclist returns and kills Barbara and the therapist.

It’s up to Sarah to follow the clues Barbara left and find the lab. This was an overly contrived section which reminded me of at least a couple of seventies cop shows where someone was abducted and then tried to retrace their steps. That was probably the only lame thing in this story, however.

But it eventually brings her to the lab which she enters to destroy. They’ve left someone there to guard it called Winston, who tries to stop Sarah by shooting her in the leg. They struggle, and he dies with his own weapon, but Sarah is badly hurt and can only drag herself out of the door before collapsing. She’s on the edge of passing out when she hears the sound of jet engines, and what looks like a Hunter Killer appears in the sky above her. She passes out…The end.

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At this point I actually screamed “Noooooo” in much the same way as they do in Japanese/American anime shows when something goes badly wrong. We won’t find out what actually happens to her or Riley until February 2009, frustratingly.

How good a series is this? I judge this on the basis that I shouted at the screen, showing that I was emotionally engaged by the drama they presented.

If only I shouted more often at the TV, it would be a good sign.

Read a review of the episode 12 here.

18 December 2008